K-Pop Conversion Step 8: Through the Decades
The K-Pop community continues to grow, reaching as far as the other side of the world. With more acts breaking into the Western music scene, audiences are becoming increasingly aware of K-Pop and are rapidly showing interest. Time and time again, this specific formula for dragging others into the hype of the Hallyu Wave has proven totally successful. This week we will take a look at the versatility of the K-Pop genre by exploring some tracks that hit on different decades!
The 1950s: “Critical Beauty” - PENTAGON
PENTAGON’s “Critical Beauty” is the bop straight out of the 1950s that you didn’t even KNOW you needed until you got it. Sampling from huge ‘50s artist Elvis in the track, it’s pretty obvious what the group was going for with this release. “Critical Beauty” is a track that blends all of the big musical strides of the 1950s with a big band element in the melody, the use of the rhythm guitar at the very beginning of the track, and the vocal tone to match Elvis mixed in with modern techniques of rap and rhythm on top of a circus concept that is reminiscent of earlier days. Can you tell that I absolutely adore this throwback concept?
The 1960s: “Mr. Ambiguous” - MAMAMOO
MAMAMOO’s debut track definitely felt like a throwback, but it may be difficult to immediately pinpoint the decade for which the group was aiming. “Mr. Ambiguous” has the quintessential sound of popular 1960s vocalists of Motown like The Supremes, The Temptations, and The Jackson 5. The vocally-focused girl group is definitely the right type of group nowadays to release a modern day ‘60s sound, with a melody featuring jazz undertones and lots of focus on the piano. Even the visuals in the music video are incredibly ‘60s-driven, with a scene where the girls are dressed in matching glittery dresses while singing into microphones that were typical of the era. Even the choreography has the old-timey feel that we don’t often see nowadays.
The 1970s: “Movie” - BTOB
Musical diversity really began to take shape in the 1970s, so it’s difficult to choose just one song that really portrays that decade. However, BTOB’s “Movie” has just the perfect ‘70s feel with such a funky beat and rhythm guitar as the main focus of the melody. Funk really began to rise in the ‘70s, and this group pinpoints that signature sound very well. The overall sepia tone of the cinematography gives off the vintage feel as well.
The 1980s: “Born Hater” - Epik High
The late 1980s are known as the “Golden Age of Hip-Hop,” a time when the genre really began to take on a life of its own and grow into the extensive genre it is today. Epik High has always had a vintage hip-hop sound to their releases, always true to the origins of Hip-Hop in a way that is rarely heard in Western music, let alone K-Pop. In the group’s classic “Born Hater,” the beat contains the signature ‘80s synthesizer sound on top of a groovy beat that lends itself to the rap flow. In addition, iKON’s leader B.I. has a vocal part that reflects early Hip-Hop and its focus on mixing rap and vocals.
The 1990s: “Lady” - EXID
Truly nothing hits upon the entire feeling of the 1990s like EXID’s most recent release “Lady.” For ‘90s babies like myself, the hip-hop influenced beat on top of a groovy rhythm is incredibly nostalgic and almost instantaneously recognized as an early ‘90s musical track the likes of Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul. My mind immediately thought of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air upon first viewing; honestly the ridiculously loud, colorful outfits and overly excessive denim are replicas of what everyone at the time was wearing. Even the music video has the standard definition feel to it from a time before high definition existed and your TV reflected the red, green, and blue colors produced by cathode rays that created the images on screen (fun fact from your resident media expert!). Nothing screams the 1990s like this release, and we love it.